Council divided on replacement process
by Joel Danoy
Dec 07, 2012 | 3696 views | 6 6 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There was a sharp divide among the Tracy City Council members Tuesday, Dec. 4, following an intense two-hour discussion on how to fill an opening created by the anticipated departure of Councilman Bob Elliott.

The seat is expected to be vacated in the coming weeks by Elliott, who ran a successful campaign for the 5th District seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

Elliott, who recused himself from council debate Tuesday, is scheduled to take the oath for his new position Jan. 7. He is not required under state law to resign his current seat until he is sworn in to a new position.

On Tuesday, city staff prepared a presentation for the council that outlines three options for filling the seat.

The first option involves a special election that San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman estimates would cost $7.50 per voter — a total of $252,405, according to City Manager Leon Churchill.

Each of the other two options involves the remaining council members filling the seat by one of two appointment processes.

One would have the council solicit applications or make nominations from the community and hold an interview and selection process.

In contrast, the second selection option would see council members fill the seat by appointing the third-place finisher from the council race that appeared on Nov. 6 general election.

Ray Morelos finished third in the campaign for two seats, behind challenger Nancy Young and sitting Councilman Michael Maciel.

Young, who finished first in the race, said she has spoken with “thousands of people” since Election Day who said they want the third-place finisher to be appointed.

“Many people did vote with the thought in mind that quite possibly whoever came in third place would be appointed,” she said. “I’m not saying it has to be that way, but as far as looking at the process, I believe we really should go with appointment. I believe that has to do with the voice of what the citizens of Tracy have already spoken.”

Councilman Robert Rickman felt the council would be most open by having a three-applicant pool that includes the three candidates on the November ballot who were not elected. Charles Manne finished the race in fourth, while Roger Birdsall was fifth.

“This process ensures the greatest transparency and eliminates speculation of favoritism or behind-the-scenes deals,” he said. “It takes our personal feelings out.”

Rickman thought the community is most familiar with these people because “they have been vetted during the election process.”

“All three of them — they spent their own money, their own time and the most important thing, I believe they held themselves out to public scrutiny,” he said. “They had the guts to get out there and make a

difference.”

Maciel, who finished second in the field during his first race for re-election, believes the process should be open to applicants in the community and that formal interviews with standardized questions be conducted.

“Otherwise, that guy has nice socks on and I want to vote him on council,” Maciel said. “It becomes very subjective, and, to me, it’s not transparent.”

During the public comment on the topic, several Morales supporters spoke in favor of appointing him to the opening as the third-place finisher. Others also spoke in favor of picking the third-place vote-getter from the recent election, but not in direct support of Morales.

Only one man spoke in favor of a special election — an option the council immediately ruled out, citing cost and time.

The discussion ended without a clear course being decided. Mayor Brent Ives told the council that the seat can’t be filled until Elliott formally resigns and that the council could only discuss the options until it’s vacated.

The four members unanimously agreed to continue discussing the matter at the next council meeting on Dec. 18.

After the meeting, Elliott said he wasn’t going to resign until the election results were finalized. The results were expected to be made official by the end of business Tuesday by the county registrar’s office.

Elliott was uncertain whether he would submit his resignation by the Dec. 18 meeting.

“It just doesn’t seem quite appropriate to resign before it’s official you’ve been elected,” Elliott said. “The timing

made sense to serve up through this session, because for the most part we still had five members for this session.”

In addition to recusing himself for the discussion about his replacement, he also recused himself during debate to renew a property tax agreement with San Joaquin County, since negotiations involve the board of supervisors.

But earlier in the night, Elliott was able to nominate Maciel to again serve as mayor pro tem, and then cast the deciding vote in favor of Maciel’s reappointment. Young and Rickman voted against the nomination.

The mayor pro tem handles the duties of the mayor at public functions and meetings when the mayor cannot be present. Each year, a council member is nominated by other members and must be confirmed by a majority vote.

Elliott said he “hadn’t looked at that part of the agenda until just before the meeting.”

“I had forgotten that oh yeah, that’s one of the first things you do — decide who the mayor pro tem is going to be,” he said.

In other council business, Young, Maciel, Ives and Raymond McCray were all sworn in to their posts. McCray and Ives each ran unopposed for city treasurer and mayor.

• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or jdanoy@tracypress.com.
Comments
(6)
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mdsmith17
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December 10, 2012
I don't have a dog in this fight so it really doesn't matter to me who gets the job, but you people who are saying the voters have spoke and the guy in third place should get it, are just wrong. If they want to appoint him for other reasons that's fine, but not because he was in third place. Third place means he "LOST" the election. The voters spoke and he lost. That doesn't mean he should get the seat. The voters were only allowed to vote for two people, not three. The only logical way you can say he should get the seat because he was in third place is if everybody got three votes and then he came in third. Had the election been conducted in that manner it's very likely the 3rd place person could have been one of the other two.
95376
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December 07, 2012
I watched the council meeting on t.v. and believe Councilmembers Rickman and Young have the correct idea. They agree that you should take into account the votes that were cast by the residents of Tracy. It was nice to see them both stand up for what they think is right, even if you may disagree. As to outrageous comments by Rickman, you are way off track. The"speculation" comment was referring to the transparency of the appointment process favored by Rickman and Young and not to any councilmember. If you have followed Tracy politics at all, the specualation comments of favoritism and behind the scene deals have been used in the past and the appointment process would put that to rest. Rickman and Young keep up the good work! As for Wmnuzumt, your comment is outrageous and without merit.
yepper
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December 07, 2012
"Only one man spoke in favor of a special election — an option the council immediately ruled out, citing COST and time." ........

Of course they ruled out a special election ..... They already blew $500,000 on an "AUTO MALL PARKWAY SIGN" ..... Had members of the council NOT committed to this ludicrous spending of money , there would be enough to have an election for an open position on the city council. ..........Something , perhaps the council knew was going require funds "?"



The "Interview" process would be a sham. It too would be costly and time consuming. Take the next "In Line" from the election that EVERYONE had the opportunity give vote to and appoint Mr. Morales as the next councilman.

Wmnuzumt
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December 07, 2012
Mr Rickman's outrageous comment to his fellow council members was unprofessional at least, and ridiculous at best. Who does he think he is? If he has a personal remark to make he should do it at another time and place.

This is not the first time he has expressed his opinion in a public forum that could have been better served in a more personal manner. I believe his head has gotten much bigger than his job description. Maybe he will one day finally pass the bar and won't have to take his frustration out on others and move on to something he thinks more fitting of someone with his intelligence.
whoareyoukidding
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December 07, 2012
He has a long way to go before he catches up to Maciel for stupid and inappropriate comments
me-here
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December 09, 2012
WhoAreYou Kidding: Right on. You got it.

Look what the last appointed council person got us.... Maciel


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